Title: A Reversal of Fortune
Author: Holly Black
In: The Coyote Road (Ellen Datlow & Terri Windling)
Rating Out of 5: 4 (Really good read!)
My Bookshelves: Family, Food, Tricksters
Dates read: 19th September 2019
Format: Short story
Publisher: Firebird Fantasy
5th sentence, 74th page: Maybe without a soul she wouldn’t even care that Boo was dead.
Nikki is just trying to have a good summer with her dog Boo. But when an accident causes her summer to take a tragic turn, she realises that she might just have to make a deal with the devil.
Eating competitions fascinate me. They’re weird, random and something that I couldn’t fathom doing myself… mostly because I already feel way too sick whenever I overeat even slightly. When I found out that actually being sick is a huge taboo and has its own name (a reversal of fortune), I was drawn completely into the tale. It had me laughing out loud, smiling, and chuckling at the ways in which Holly Black was able to take a fairly typical trickster tale and turn it on its head.
Being that this short story is in a collection of trickster tales, I figured that it was quite likely for Nikki to outsmart the devil. But using a food eating competition to do so. And quite a disgusting one at that… it was a little too humorous and fun for me to put the story down. A good reminder as to why I love Holly Black’s writing so much… she always has just the right amount of sass and surprise to leave me with a large smile on my face.
After finishing this story, I both wanted to go and eat my weight in sour worms… and never eat them again. There were some fairly strong emotions inspired by Nikki’s face off with the devil. But mostly what I loved was the fact that she did all of this for her dog. She faced up to the loss of her soul, because her dog is her soul. Or at least, that’s how I read it… and it’s something that I think I too would do. I can’t imagine not having my beautiful big dog by my side everyday…